Health secretary cites Royston Hospital saga in parliamentary debate

Royston Hospital in London Road.

Royston Hospital in London Road. - Credit: Archant

The Secretary of State for Health has said community hospitals like Royston are how the NHS needs to be in future – more specific and more local.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with Maggie Allen from Royston Community Health. Picture: RCH

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald with Maggie Allen from Royston Community Health. Picture: RCH - Credit: Archant

The beds at the hospital in London Road were removed in 2012 - and since then campaigners Royston Community Health have been fighting to have an integrated health and social care hub at the site.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald has been working with RCH to ensure the hospital's future.

In a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday last week, Sir Oliver said: "One thing that would help to relieve the hospitals of some of their burden would be to have more NHS hubs for social care and health together — that is, of course, for primary care. Does he agree with that, and is he able to say any more about Royston, which I have discussed with him in the past?"

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "Yes, I hope that we can make some progress on Royston, because Royston is an example of how the NHS needs to be formulated more in the future.

"The NHS needs to be both more specific and more local, with the high-quality, specialist, cutting-edge technologies in the most specialist of centres, such as the tertiary hospitals of this country.

"At the same time, it needs to get those services that can be as close to home as possible as close to home as possible, using the best of modern technology to be able to do it. That means that hubs that are somewhere between primary and secondary care are the future, because so often someone can go and have a scan at a hub and the scan can then be interpreted off-site in one of the specialist centres, which means that the patient does not have to travel as far.

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"For instance, especially for an elderly patient, it can be incredibly helpful to be able to go just to the local health hub or walk-in centre to have such a diagnosis.

"That is the future of the NHS - more local and more specialist at the same time.

"It is one of the reasons why I am such a fan of community hospitals, for instance.

"This is about making sure that we support the NHS where people live, and that we end the generation of putting more and more services into the really big hospitals and sucking them out of local community services.

"I will end that sucking out of local services, and in fact I will put more into local communities. I have talked about the technology agenda - one thing technology can do is empower the movement of the NHS to local communities. It is incredibly important that we do that."